The shift to online shopping has introduced a new form of urban consumerism. Fewer trips to the mall or grocery store have created opportunities for online retailers to meet demand by utilizing forgotten urban industrial space.
Pockets of warehouses, often on the fringe of metro markets, are being converted from manufacturing into distribution centers. These “urban retail” facilities don’t come with bright lighting, colorful branding or big parking lots. In fact, they are rather nondescript. But they are efficient in filling the essential household shopping needs of families, and have become economic engines for these industrial zones.
Online retailer Boxed.com moves bulk household items though its NJ fulfillment center that serves customers along the Northeast corridor. Amazon.com operates four facilities in Southern California.
Rents are beginning to tick up, and eventually the growing ecommerce infrastructure network is expected to function much like a utility.
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